Working papers

"Lobbying for Globalization" (with Paola Conconi and Mathieu Parenti). Previously circulated as "Globalization For Sale", CEPR Discussion Paper 14597.

Featured in a column on VoxEU and on ProMarket

Winner of: Best Paper at the 17th GEP/CEPR Annual Postgraduate Conference in Nottingham (UK)

Abstract: We study the role of firms in the political economy of free trade agreements (FTAs). Using detailed information from lobbying reports filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, we show that lobbying on FTAs is dominated by large internationalized firms, which are in favor of these agreements. Moreover, larger firms spend more lobbying on a given FTA and individual firms spend more supporting agreements that generate larger potential gains – larger improvements in their access to foreign consumers and suppliers and smaller increases in domestic competition – and that are more likely to be opposed by politicians. To rationalize these findings, we develop a new model of endogenous lobbying on trade agreements. In this model, heterogeneous firms select into trade and choose whether and how much to spend lobbying on the ratification of an FTA, and politicians may be biased in favor of or against the agreement.

"Betting on the Wrong Horse: lobbying on TPP and the 2016 U.S. presidential election" (with Moritz Hennicke)

Featured in a column of the Turin Centre on Emerging Economies (OEET), Università di Torino

Abstract: Recent trade agreements have moved beyond tariff reductions, encompassing provisions and obligations related to non-tariff issues. These aspects are often seen as the reflection of interest groups, able to manipulate and extract additional rents from the ratification of these agreements. We provide empirical evidence that corporate lobbying on trade agreements matters for corporate profits. We use the historical shock to U.S. trade policy – the non-ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – following the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We find that stock prices of companies that lobbied in favor of the TPP underperformed following the election. On the intensive margin, we find a strong and positive relationship between the amount spent in lobbying and the cumulative losses of lobby- ing firms. Finally, by comparing the original TPP agreement with its newer version (CPTPP) without U.S. participation, we provide evidence that firms’ lobbying activity was related to having some specific provisions included in the agreement.

Lobbying on Deep Trade Agreements: How Large Firms Buy Favorable Provisions (with Paola Conconi, In Song Kim, and Mathieu Parenti)

Featured in a column on VoxEU and and in a CEPR e-book.

Abstract: Trade policy is increasingly deep, encompassing many areas that go beyond traditional trade policy, such as investment, intellectual property rights protection, and regulatory standards. Exploiting rich data available under the US Lobbying Disclosure Act, we construct a novel dataset on firm-level lobbying on deep trade policies. This provides detailed information on firms’ lobbying effort, both in terms of their expenditures on specific trade issues and federal entities they target. We show that lobbying on deep trade issues is dominated by large multinational corporations, which lobby to introduce provisions that are favorable to them. Larger firms spend more, lobby on more issues, and target more entities. To explain these patterns, we describe a model in which heterogeneous firms choose how much effort to exert lobbying on deep trade issues.

Abstract: I systematically explore the role of trade unions in the political economy of trade policy, studying both their lobbying expenditures and their campaign contributions. Using detailed information from lobbying reports filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, I first show that unions are the main opposing force to the ratification of free trade agreements (FTAs). Unions that are larger and operate in tradable sectors are more likely to lobby against FTAs and to spend more opposing these agreements. I then study union's PAC contributions to political parties. During the last three decades, more than 90% of unions' PAC contributions were directed to Democratic candidates. I show that this has drastically changed since Trump's presidential campaign. Linking data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, and roll-call votes, I find that unions that lobbied against the ratification of FTAs started contributing more to Republican congressmen, benefitting particularly those who have taken an anti-trade stance.


Veugelers, R., Barbiero, F. and Blanga-Gubbay, M. D. (2013) "Meeting the manufacturing firms involved in GVCs", in Veugelers, R. (2013) "Manufacturing Europe’s future", Bruegel Blueprint 21: 107-138


"EU Trade Agreements: Past, present, and future developments", Kühne Impact Series 02-20, Kühne Center for Sustainable Globalization - University of Zurich

"A New Hope for the WTO? Past achievements, current challenges, and planned reforms", Kühne Impact Series 02-21, Kühne Center for Sustainable Globalization - University of Zurich

"Africa’s Trade Potential: Escaping the Colonial Past by Building a Self-Sustaining Future", Kühne Impact Series 04-21, Kühne Center for Sustainable Globalization - University of Zurich

"The European Green Deal: Transforming International Trade and Transportation", Kühne Impact Series 06-21, Kühne Center for Sustainable Trade and Logistic - University of Zurich

"The EU Emissions Trading System: Becoming Efficient", Kühne Impact Series 02-22, Kühne Center for Sustainable Trade and Logistic - University of Zurich